Mahonia Gardens is a small, ¾ acre, market garden in Sisters, Oregon. We focus on bio-diverse vegetable production. We are dedicated to growing quality produce-- while we are not certified organic, we follow organic practices, starting with organic seed and using absolutely no harmful chemicals in production. Our theories align with the idea that quality soil creates quality food. We primarily cultivate in 4’-wide intensive, permanent beds resembling French-Intensive or Bio-Intensive styles. Labor on the farm is done by hand, using broadforks and digging forks to create and maintain beds. We sell produce through a CSA program (~40 member), farmers markets, and some restaurant wholesale.
Benji Nagel and Carys Wilkins founded Mahonia Gardens in 2013. We started our own project after working on farms throughout college, and participating in farm/building internships. This December we will be having our first baby! So this season will be new for everyone as we learn how to work and be parents.
We started with Rogue Farm Corps in 2015 by hosting our Food & Farm Policy potluck. Since then we have hosted the Body Ergonomics Discussion Circle and the Intensive Market Gardening Class.
The most important aspect of our project is our commitment to lifestyle. We choose to farm because of the way we are able to interact with our environment and our community through growing and selling food. We feel the impact everyday of doing what we love and supporting our local, as well as global, systems. Economic progress is not our goal. We work hard, grow and provide as much food as we can, and we also play hard. Our summer work hours are 6am to 2pm, which leaves time for lake adventures, hikes, siesta, and lots of music and dancing. We are not purists of any particular method or style- we’re always learning, always trying new things, always questioning ourselves and being open to the unknown.
Where we live: Sisters is a small town, serving a community of about 5,000 people. It is situated at the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains, 20 miles from Bend (pop. ~90,000) and 30 miles from Smith Rock, a world-class rock climbing location. The Sisters community is rich with music and art, with a budding food culture. Central Oregon is a paradise for the outdoors person. Mountain biking and hiking, climbing, lakes and rivers abound, all within a short distance from Sisters.
The climate in Central Oregon is unique and challenging. This is not the lush Oregon that so many people expect—but a high-desert climate. It is dry. The frost-free period is extremely short, and nighttime temperatures can dip into the 30’s at any time during the summer, while the daytime temps can get into the 100’s.
RESPONSIBILITIES AND TRAINING SCHEDULE
A RFC intern responsibilities will include:
- Propagation: seeding/planting/transplanting/cuttings
- Bed preparation
- Weed management
- General farm maintenance
- Marketing: either our CSA program, our farmer’s market, or our restaurants sales
- Care of chickens
- Seed saving
- Processing value added product: herbal tea blends, sauerkraut and other pickling, canned or dried tomatoes, etc.
- Selling at farmers market
We will generally be training together, side-by-side. This creates a learning environment in which you get to learn from experience and direct conversation and discussion with the farmers. We can provide many books and references based on your interest. Having a desire to learn and ask questions is an important aspect of the internship process, as it benefits both sides—we believe we are all students of farming and learning is a continual process as we gain experience through constant practice.
We are looking for someone who has the following qualities:
- Mindfulness: of self, the people around you, the environment, your actions and reactions.
- Practiced communication skills: we need to be able to talk openly about what and how work is being done. We will work and live in close quarters and need to know how you are feeling.
- Self-motivation and work ethic: we will expect you to be observant, notice what needs to be done and do it without being told.
- Flexibility: plans change based on weather, opportunities, or mishaps, and we all just gotta roll with it.
- Clean drivers license: you may be asked to take our stick-shift truck to farmers market alone or to deliver produce.
- Ability to lift 50 lbs. repeatedly.
- Desire to learn: asking questions and attempting to do your best quality work will be highly regarded.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND COMPENSATION
The RFC intern will be given a monthly stipend of $400. Food provided will include meat (if desired), eggs (when available), coconut oil, flour, sugar, vinegar, some spices, beans, rice, pasta, and all the vegetables you can reasonably eat from the farm. We already have a lot of pets on the farm so no other animals please.
Housing will be in a semi-private outdoor space the home backyard of Benji and Carys, in downtown Sisters. You will be living in "the Shabin"- a 9x12 foot insulated structure with a bed, dresser and desk. You will have a private outdoor kitchen with a hot plate, sink, and cold/dry food storage. You will share an outdoor shower/compost toilet with farmers Carys and Benji. We absolutely cannot allow pets at our house- no exceptions. Our home has laundry and internet, and is walking distance from town where you can get groceries, sit for coffee, go to the library, access running trails, etc. Having a car is very handy as Bend is a 30 minute drive, but Sisters can provide all your needs.